Let’s say you are new to anime and yes you enjoy watching the different stories that the anime community provides: action, comedy, romance - a light of a new world sparkling right before your eyes and you think it’s wonderful! But upon further watching, you might notice something different that are not usual elements in mainstream media. You might notice some characters having some archetypes that you are not used to or have observed some weird scene combinations that you think are unusual from the usual entertainment that you used to consume. If you have ever felt a cultural shock from watching anime, well you are not alone and that is perfectly normal for anyone who just started watching the famous Japanese animation shows.
These unusual anime archetypes can be in the form of having male characters wearing girl clothing and looking like a female themselves, but still call themselves a boy - we call them the traps by the way, and yes characters like them are perfectly normal in anime. There are also characters that are constantly seen beating around people or ignoring them, especially the person that they have romantic feelings for - that’s a tsundere, and we love them, too. And most importantly, the topic that we will be discussing - the neko boy.
Who is a Neko Boy and what are they supposed to be?
Simply put, a Neko Boy is male individual in anime that possesses cat ears (or nekomimi which literally translates to “cat ears”, and people prefer to call them that) or a cat tail. They also possess some sharp claws sometimes and show to have some sharp canine teeth as well. They are known to be an amalgamation of two different speci combined into one different entity that is like a human, but also not entirely. On why they have ears and tails? It doesn’t really matter as that’s highly dependent on the situation that they are in. Also, they don’t necessarily have to be a Neko Boy because their character is judged to be so; they can be a Neko Boy regardless of their character but dependent on how they act. Sometimes, a Neko Boy arises in a scene when an individual among the characters does something that is intriguing not only to the character but also the viewer. Also has something to do with something mischievous that piques the interest of the said individual.
Most know the Neko Boys as a cat-human hybrid. Although, they don’t need to be necessarily be cats, there are other forms that they are known for: wolves, foxes, just about anything that resembles a furry speci with nekomimis (you can say people who love these boys are furries, I suppose, no ill-feelings though). An example of this fox-like Neko Boy is Tomoe from Kamisama Hajimemashita.
Characteristics of a Neko Boy
There are different Neko Boy characteristics depending on their characters in the stories that they are in but most of them share a common thing - they act like cats . They sleep like a cat, they stand like a cat, heck they even boss around like a normal cat does. On whether these are the sole reasons why they are very much likeable, well, we have to hear it from the Neko lovers themselves.
The Neko Boy personalities vary whether they are a small boy with cute characteristics, likened to that of a baby cat. These are the ones that you would want to take into your house and to protect them at all costs. They can also be a loud human who bosses around everyone and thinks that they own everyone around the house. They can also be someone who is sly like a fox (or a cat) who makes people really uncomfortable when they are around them. Also, these very Neko boys themselves are either loved by the cats that they so look-like and/or they themselves love cats as well.
There are also a lot of anime characters that are not necessarily considered Neko Boys physically due to their absence of the nekomimis and neko tails, but are considered to be Neko Boys due to their nature of the way they act, acting like a cat themselves. An example of this anime character is Kou Mabuchi from Ao Haru Ride, a shoujo, romance anime. Kou does not possess any neko mimis, no, but his personality is almost always likened to that of a cat that even the other characters of the show themselves would mention how Kou acts very much like a cat, and how he sleeps like a cat.
Another example of this anime character is Kenma Kozume from Haikyu! That resembles a lot of a neko boy, even though he does not possess the nekomimis and/or neko tails. He is, however, likened a lot to that of a cat, considering that his team is called Nekoma. His eyes are like that of a cat, the way he moves is like that of a cat, and he is extremely intelligent, like that of a cat! There are more characters like these in anime the more you watch them, and their sole characteristics of being a Neko Boy themselves will sure capture your attention and hearts.
Why are they famous?
The Neko Boys, or just simply the Neko archetype which also includes the Neko Girls, too, are famous because of their kawaii features that are unusual to look but yet are charming to the ones who observe them. The charm of the Neko Boys are their neko mimis and tails that are non-existent in the real world. It can also be said that this is what the furries are famous in the first place. Observing human-like characters while also they are not human themselves gives off a spark of interest to whoever sees them because first they are novel and unusual and second, the mere existence of the nekomimis are just simply adorable. Nobody really needs a viable explanation to understand as to why they like the idea of interests having cat ears, right? I guess that’s one explanation to that.
And probably, another thing as to why they are so famous is that many fangirls love drawing them. I personally enjoy drawing cute, chibi neko boys. And why might you ask? Well, because they are kawaii! They are very adorable to look at and whenever you finish a simple doodle of a neko boy yourself, you can’t help but look at your artwork with love full of caring eyes because of how adorable your Neko Boy went to be. And while I, a simple doodler who finds serenity and enjoyment when it comes to drawing adorable Neko Boys, what more to the official artists that have spent most of their youth perfecting their skills?
The Neko Boys are very enjoyable to draw because of their physical features that coincide with the idea of having a cat and a human boy in one body. It’s the closest thing to a werewolf that you can have, only that Neko Boys are usually slimmer to body proportions given that the boys from its country of origin are well, thinner than that of its English counterparts. And I personally think that the existence of Werewolves in fiction can also deal to the factor of admiration to these little catboys.
Probably, the thought of turning your favorite characters into your own visualized Neko Boy is a charm in it as well, and guess what, turns out there are a lot of other people who enjoy this very same exercise as well.
Another thing that Neko Boys are famous for is their existence in fanfiction. You know what they say, it is the fanfiction works that are made by the fans that keeps a fandom going, and there are tons of different fanfiction that is written solely for the enjoyment of the Neko Boy archetype. As there will be no shortage of fans for these specific types of characters, there will also be no less material for when it comes to stories that center around them as well.
There are event times when some male characters are considered as Neko Boys because of their assumed sexual orientation by the fans. As a lot of fans consider Neko Boys as the feminine type of a male romantic pair, often found in yaoi romances in anime (a romantic pairing of two males, often affiliated by a pair with a masculine man and a feminine man), it can’t be helped when fans find someone a male character who is also feminine in character and in action to be called a Neko Boy. And yes, you can say there are different ways to interpret how someone defines a Neko Boy as it can have different interpretations and definitions depending on the situation that a character is placed in, and depending on the community that the person is engaging in when it comes to talking about the said character.
So what do you think of the Neko Boy archetype in anime? How about you, do you also love Neko Boys? Tell us who your favorite Neko Boy is and why!